Big plays lift Avon Eagles over the Tiffin Columbian Tornadoes

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE Eagles quarterback David Zeh makes a carry during the second quarter of the OHSAA D-2 Regional Semi-Final game between the Avon High School Eagles and the Tiffin Columbian High School Tornadoes at Don Paul Stadium in Fremont, Ohio, on Friday, Nov. 9, 2012. The Eagles defeated the Tornadoes, 24-14.

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE Eagles quarterback David Zeh hands off to running back Ross Douglas during the second quarter of the OHSAA D-2 Regional Semi-Final game between the Avon High School Eagles and the Tiffin Columbian High School Tornadoes at Don Paul Stadium in Fremont, Ohio, on Friday, Nov. 9, 2012. The Eagles defeated the Tornadoes, 24-14.

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE Eagles running back Ross douglas make sa carry during the second quarter of the OHSAA D-2 Regional Semi-Final game between the Avon High School Eagles and the Tiffin Columbian High School Tornadoes at Don Paul Stadium in Fremont, Ohio, on Friday, Nov. 9, 2012. The Eagles defeated the Tornadoes, 24-14.

FREMONT — Avon’s defense proved that their win over Tiffin Columbian last season was no fluke, as it forced four turnovers, all into the hands of junior linebacker Kevin Maloney, and carried the Eagles to a 24-14 win in the Division II, Region 6 Semifinal at Don Paul Stadium on Friday night.

Despite being outgained 344-211, the Eagles (11-1) made enough big plays on both sides of the ball to punch a ticket to their second-straight regional final. The defense turned three Tiffin Columbian (11-1) turnovers into touchdowns.

“I said you’ve got to be lucky and good, and I think we were pretty good tonight too, on defense,” Avon coach Mike Elder said. “Matter of fact, that’s an understatement. Our defense was outstanding.

“People don’t know how good (Tiffin Columbian) is. They’re 11-0 for a reason. For us to stop them and only keep 14 points out there, especially when we went three-and-out on offense a bunch of times and struggled there for a while, is remarkable. So I thought we played outstanding on defense, outstanding on special teams and okay on offense.”

Up 17-7 in the fourth, Maloney’s fourth takeaway had Avon at its 22 looking to put the game away. That’s when tight end Chris Maxwell stepped up, turning a 12-yard pass from quarterback David Zeh into a 76-yard sprint down the Eagles’ sideline all the way down to the Tornado 2-yard line.

“I made some mistakes in the beginning (of the game) and I wanted to make up for it,” Maxwell said. “That’s all it was.”

Zeh found Maxwell wide open in the corner of the end zone on a fourth-down play-action pass for a 1-yard touchdown to give Avon a 24-7 lead, which put the Tornadoes away. He led the Eagles in receiving yards with 78, all on that one drive.

“It feels great,” Maxwell said. “I’ve never been in big games before, but it feels good.”

Avon forced two Tiffin Columbian turnovers in the second quarter, as Maloney intercepted TC quarterback Mike Rhorbach and recovered a fumble on a kickoff. The Eagles turned each turnover into a touchdown, first on an 8-yard run by Zeh and later on a Ross Douglas 9-yard run.

The Eagles scored two of their touchdowns on fourth downs — Zeh’s run in the second quarter and the touchdown pass to Maxwell in the fourth quarter.

“You’ve got to convert on fourth down at times,” Elder said. “A lot of people think I should kick field goals and we did early on. I hate kicking field goals although we have a great kicker. It has nothing to do with him, but I feel like you’re leaving four points out there.”

The Tornadoes cut the deficit to 17-7, when Rohrbach found Jordan Dye on a middle screen and he raced 48 yards for the score late in the second quarter. Dye added one more score in the fourth to make the score closer, but it wasn’t enough.

Avon’s defense contained the powerful running game of Tiffin Columbian led by senior running back Jack Jacoby, who rushed for 81 yards on 22 carries, most on direct snaps from the shotgun. Douglas struggled for Avon, rushing for just 42 yards on 13 carries.

Zeh, who switched jerseys early due to a rip in his uniform, finished the game throwing for 140 yards.

The Eagles will face Toledo Central Catholic in the Region 6 Final next Friday night at a site to be determined after the Fighting Irish defeated Mansfield Madison 45-7. Avon defeated Toledo Central Catholic a year ago 49-28 in the regional semifinal.

@Bielik_Tim

Avon 24, Tiffin Columbian 14

Division II Region 6 Semifinal

Avon (11-1) 3 14 0 7 — 24

Tiffin Columbian (11-1) 0 7 0 7 — 14

Scoring

A — Eric Sumislawski 27 FG

A — David Zeh 9 run (Sumislawski kick)

A — Ross Douglas 8 run (Sumislawski kick)

TC — Jordan Dye 48 pass from Mike Rohrbach (Derek Dryfuse kick)

A — Chris Maxwell 1 pass from David Zeh (Sumislawski kick)

TC — Dye 17 pass from Rohrbach (Dryfuse kick)

Statistics

First Downs — A 8, TC 21.

Yards Rushing — A 71 (Douglas 42), TC 162 (Jacoby 81).

Yards Passing — A 140 (Maxwell 78), TC 180 (Dye 110)

Passes Att.-Comp.-Int — A 18-8-0, TC 20-11-1.

Fumbles-Lost — A 1-0, TC 5-3.

Penalties-Yards — A 3-20, TC 3-25.

Last Updated: 11/10/2012 12:26:33 PM EST

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